The Ulster University Business School provides opportunities for PhD study on a full-time and part-time basis in a range of topic areas linked to the Faculty’s research strategy. Studying for a PhD offers researchers the opportunity to research in depth a range of business and management topics at an advanced level. Completion of a PhD typically takes three years on a full-time basis and six years on a part-time basis. Over 50 full time and part time PhD Researchers are currently registered for PhD programmes in the Business School.

Before submitting an application, prospective applicants are asked to note the research areas available for PhD study highlighted here and to make contact with the named staff who may be able to provide supervision in their area of expertise. All applications must include a detailed research proposal.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching accounting and finance, SME marketing, digital marketing, food marketing, entrepreneurship, SME internationalisation, tourism, retailing, supply chain management, innovation, human resource management, and operations.


In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), Ulster University Business School had 98% of its research recognised as international in terms of originality, significance and rigour. This placed the Business School in the top quartile of UK universities for research and 7th in the UK for research impact. Since 2016 UUBS has been affiliated to the Nine Doctoral Training Partnerships and the Economic and Research Council (ESRC DTP) initiative with Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Queen’s, Sunderland, and Teesside universities.  Being part of this initiative means that we are able to apply for funding from the ESRC, which is the UK's leading research funding and training agency in the area of the social sciences, for high quality PhD projects that are specifically linked to the expertise of our supervisors. ESRC recognition means that the agency recognises not only the high quality of the PhD programmes offered by the UUBS but also that the support and training offered to PhD Researchers by the Faculty and the University is highly effective.

Another indicator of the satisfaction of our current PhD Researchers is reflected in the latest results from the 2018 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) where our PhD Researchers highlighted very high satisfaction levels (87% overall satisfaction). This recognition shows that our facilities, procedures and practices are up to the high standards that they expect.


Research facilities and groups

All full-time PhD students are provided with a desk in a shared space and a personal laptop.

PhD supervision is available within the research groups listed below.

Accounting and Finance

Within accounting and finance the group focuses on efficiency and performance measurement and the analysis of structural change in the financial sector. Current areas of research include: public sector accounting; charity accounting; performance measurement in NFPOs; banks and credit unions as well as other Corporate Social Responsibility and Organisational Governance issues.


Research interests fall into two main areas:
(i) SMEs with emphasis on the marketing/entrepreneurship interface; and
(ii) the ‘front’ end of the marketing channel, the point of contact between retailer and consumer. Current areas of research include small firms’ marketing theory and practice; SME internationalization; marketing communications; services marketing; SME marketing; qualitative research methodology; factors influencing the performance of SMEs; innovation; knowledge management; strategic marketing; decision- making in entrepreneurial firms; networking as a marketing competency; the role of the Internet in entrepreneurial firms’ marketing; strategy and international business; financial services marketing; internet marketing; direct marketing; public sector marketing; bank marketing; customer marketing; internet banking; motivation for foreign direct investment; customer value and competitive value.

Operations and Contemporary Organisational Issues

This group has consolidated its work in the development and application of quantitative and systems based ideas and models. A major interest for members of the group has developed around the implications for a range of organisations of the total quality management philosophy. This is reflected in research work that is focused on supply management and business process improvement. Current areas of research include: electronic commerce and the role of intermediaries, the outsourcing decision-making process, supplier development strategies, early supplier involvement in the design process, supply chain dynamics, public sector procurement and knowledge/innovation management assessment tools.

The research of this group also covers a wide spectrum of contemporary issues linked to the management of human resources within the private and public sectors. The areas researched include, future of work issues, labour economics, gender and equality issues, employee relations, Strategic HRM and employee involvement and participation.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.


My sincere thanks to Prof Pauric McGowan and Dr Alison Hampton for walking alongside me on my PhD journey.  The path was at times rocky; at times full of twists and turns; at other times offered some steep learning moments - but with a clear runway to the end and together we crossed the finishing line!  Their supervision was top class and will be for me true role model supervisors.

Breda O'Dwyer - PhD in Business and Management

I completed by BSc in International Travel and Tourism Management at Ulster which inspired me to go on and begin my PhD after 2 years in industry. My supervisors, Professor Stephen Boyd and Dr Peter Bolan have been fantastic throughout my PhD journey. My time at Ulster, in particular Coleraine campus, has been amazing through undergrad and PhD.I am most proud to have finished my PhD and survived the rollercoaster ride of many ups and downs especially during the past year and a half. I could never have got through it all without my office bestfriend, Natasha McClelland. We both started and finished PhD together. We've been on holidays, shopping trips and spa days. We've laughed (a lot), ranted and cried. Our sweetie jar was the best addition to the office! My advice for future PhD researchers would be to get yourselves a PhD bestie and just keep telling each other "You can do this!".

Nicola Allen - PhD in Business and Management

I'm just delighted to be sitting here as a PhD graduate - what a process and for anyone who completed their PhD part-time, an extra tip of the hat. I would never have gotten through this without the support and guidance from my supervisors - Martin, Judith and Alison, thank you! You are a crack team and I was fortunate to be supervised by you. Also massive thank you to my family! Your love and support meant the world and would not have been able to get through without your support and sacrifice, especially my wife Rebekah and kids, Isaac, Theo and Abigail. My proudest moment was my Viva - it was tough, fair but really enjoyable at the same time! If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be keep going and embrace the journey! Surround yourself with good people - you will need them along the way! Finally, congratulations to my fellow graduating colleagues - well done.

Ian Smyth - PhD in Business and Management

My journey in Northern Ireland began 11 years ago when I started my BSc in International Travel and Tourism Management at Ulster University and graduated with a first-class honours in 2015. During my first year as an undergrad, the professor who stood by me throughout all the years, mentioned the possibility of a PhD. At that time, it felt like a very distant and unlikely dream. He was also the one who inspired my research subject which combined two passions of mine, film and heritage, and became my main supervisor, Dr Peter Bolan. I also have to mention Dr Clare Carruthers and Prof Audrey Gilmore who completed my supervisory team and provided incredible support and encouragement throughout.My happiest moment during the PhD was when I discovered I was pregnant with my beautiful girl, Isabella! She did come as a bit of a shock and surprise and journeyed with me through my data collection. At seven months old, I am sure she must have been the youngest participant observer in the field.

Mihaela Ghisoiu - PhD in Business and Management

I completed my BSc Consumer Studies at Ulster University and graduated with a first-class honours in 2017. It was here that I found my passion, desire and academic support to undertake my PhD. My time at Ulster University has been amazing and I couldn’t have got through this experience without my supervisors - The Dream Team. I am deeply grateful for their guidance, invaluable advice, support, encouragement and for ensuring that my supervisor meetings were never dull. Ulster University has provided me with so many learning and training experiences and the opportunity to attend regional, national and international conferences, in addition to many external networking events. I was always encouraged and supported to progress my personal and professional development. Along the way I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Paul Dion, who helped me to understand statistics and has always remained in contact checking in every so often. In exchange I taught him some very valuable Northern

Natasha McClelland - PhD in Business and Management